I woke up this morning to find the imprint of my kindle on my cheek. I'd fallen asleep reading my book. Again.
I've always loved reading. Books have opened up windows to new places, new lives and new experiences for me and I want my children to get the same joy from reading.
Yet when I taught in schools I heard plenty of times from parents that their children, particularly sons, just weren't that interested in reading.
Over the last few years we've used over 50 stories linked to science, technology, engineering and maths (STEAM) in our classes and workshops.
I love tying together a story with fun practical activities and learning. For those children who already love books, it provides an exciting purpose and context to the activity. For those less keen on books, it helps give a purpose and fun outcome to listening to the story.
I thought I'd share some of my favourites from Little STEAMers classes and give you activity ideas for each one, so you can use stories to open up windows to STEAM in your home.
1. Who Sank the Boat? by Pamela Allen
It's a classic for talking about floating and sinking. I love the simple story and pictures but the clear link to science is what makes this one such a winner. As the story progresses children meet the different animals who slowly get onto the boat to find out which one of them finally made the boat sink.
Activity: Take a toy boat and fill it with things that would sink (coins, stones etc). How many does it take to sink the boat?
More to Explore: Try a bigger boat. Try heavier objects inside.
2. Dreaming Up by Christy Hale
Less a story and more a series of inspirational photos, this book has amazing ideas for ways to recreate famous architecture in your own home. The ideas range from a simple building of your sofa cushions to more complex ideas involving craft sticks, cardboard and glue. Each page has a simple poem to go with the image.
Activity: Let children choose one idea from the book and recreate it themselves, working with you.
More to Explore: Think about buildings they already know and create these from materials of their choice.
3. My Shadow by Robert Louis Stevenson
This book combines the words from the original poem by Robert Louis Stevenson with really engaging pictures showing ways that shadows can change. The ideas, such as drawing around shadows and making shadows smaller and bigger, can be easily explored yourself afterwards.
Activity: Take a torch into a dark room and try to change the shape and size of shadows of different objects like the boy in the book.
More to Explore: Create your own shadow puppet theatre from a box and some tissue paper.
4. Paper Planes by Jim Helmore & Richard Jones
This is a lovely story about being separated from a best friend but still connecting from far away. It made me quite emotional the first time I read it. It doesn't directly explore the science of flight but works well as inspiration to fly your own paper planes.
Activity: Build and decorate your own paper planes.
More to Explore: What's the best way to throw a plane to make it go the furthest? How do different shapes and sizes of planes change how far they fly?
5. The Most Magnificient Thing by Ashley Spires
This story emphasizes the need for resilience and perseverance even when things aren't working out the way we hope. The little girl has an idea for a magnificent creation in her mind and feels frustration as she tries, and at first fails, to bring it together. When she finally finishes her creation (a scooter sidecar for her dog!) she learns it might not be perfect but it can still be magnificent.
Activity: Decide on something they'd like to build together with you (scooter side car for a teddy, scooter for a teddy, home for a teddy etc.) and get building as a team.
More to Explore: Look at some of the magnificent things around you and investigate how they are made or how they work. Discuss materials, function and the reasons an object looks or is made a certain way.
If you like these ideas and would like to bring more STEAM stories and fun to your little one, you can try out Little STEAMers for 2-5 year olds. Your first class is free.
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We choose items to recommend that are best because of suitability for our classes, price point and deliverability.